We are pleased to announce that researchers now have access to several dozen episodes of the local civil rights television program “Like It Is,” which were recently digitized for access and preservation. This endeavor was supported in part by an award from the Ohio Historical Records Advisory Board (OHRAB), through funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), National Archives and Records Administration.
An invaluable resource on African American history in the Miami Valley and across America, the weekly program “Like It Is” was produced from 1978 to 1985 by Arthur E. Thomas, Ed.D. (later president of Central State University). On the show, Thomas interviewed leaders – both local and national – known for civil rights activism and for overcoming race and gender barriers.
Just the names of the interviewees provoked much excitement: Rev. Jesse Jackson; Maya Angelou; Rosa Parks; Nikki Giovanni; James H. McGee, Dayton’s first African American mayor; Louis Stokes, Ohio’s first elected African American Congressman; Larry Troutman, of the Dayton funk band Zapp. And that is just to name a few of the more than 100 guests who appeared on “Like It Is” over the years.
The OHRAB grant generously provided $4,200.00 towards the digitization of 71 U-matic video tapes, an especially at-risk obsolete video format, by Scene Savers, a professional audiovisual digitization vendor in Covington, Kentucky. During the process, two of the tapes were discovered to contain no content. For each of the remaining 69 tapes, Scene Savers returned an unprocessed *.avi file (digital master file), compressed *.mp4 file (access copy with slightly reduced quality and much smaller file size), and metadata (technical details). The digitization resulted in a total of 2.39 terabytes of data!
The “Like It Is” videos are part of MS-667: Dr. Arthur E. Thomas, President Emeritus, Central State University, Collection. All of the videos (both digitized and not yet digitized) are listed in the collection’s finding aid. If a digitized version is available, the item record will include two entries under Dates, one for the episode date and one that says “Digitized 2022”; and two entries under Physical Storage Information, one being a Box (where the tape is stored) and one being “E-item ms667_e0204” (the identifier for the digitized version). In addition, all digitized episodes of “Like It Is” have a brief summary description of the interview’s topics in the online finding aid.
You can now request to see any of the digitized content by making a research appointment. In the near future, we hope to add content from the “Like It Is” videos to our institutional repository, CORE Scholar. We will also continue to seek out donations and funding to support digitization of the remaining programs on U-matic tapes. We will keep you posted on our progress!